Future UC President's Colleagues Expound On His 'Passion for Higher Education'

Photo: Board Chairman Richard Blum, 
pictured left, speaks with Mark Yudof at the regents meeing in San Francisco on Thursday.
Skyler Reid/Staff
Board Chairman Richard Blum, pictured left, speaks with Mark Yudof at the regents meeing in San Francisco on Thursday.

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As the University of California undergoes a shift in leadership, University of Texas Chancellor Mark Yudof is set to take the president's role following extensive experience heading higher education institutions.

Yudof was appointed Thursday by the UC Board of Regents to succeed UC President Robert Dynes, who is set to step down from his position at the end of June.

Many of Yudof's colleagues said Yudof's history with public university systems has prepared him for his new position.

"He is a man of great intellect, fairness, sensitivity, and passion for higher education," said David E. Daniel, president of the University of Texas at Dallas, in an e-mail. "He is always willing to listen to and consider input from students and faculty."

As president of the University of Minnesota from 1997-2002, Yudof led a $71.47 million effort to renovate the student union at the Twin Cities campus. Additionally, he spearheaded improvements to a nearby residence hall and to the campus' overall aesthetics.

"That was a monumental project," said Richard Pfutzenreuter, chief financial officer of the University of Minnesota system. "His legacy here was really improving the physical nature of the campus and really launching it."

During his tenure, Yudof also helped the university raise more than $1 billion in gifts one year early of the university's goal.

Yudof then took on the role of the University of Texas chancellor in 2002, where many of his colleagues said he led a collaborative effort toward system-wide transparency and tuition control.

"When he first came in he was very interested in accountability ... and making sure that we had enough data about the various universities and the system from which to draw conclusions and discover weaknesses and strengths in order to make this better, also to tell our story to legislators," said Rodney Mabry, president of the University of Texas at Tyler.

As chancellor, Yudof helped navigate the university through the state's $10 billion budget shortfall.

"He just asked us to be creative and asked us to report on that creativity," Mabry said. "So he believes again in writing down the numbers and writing down what he's done it goes a long way to make the public and the legislature more amenable to helping out universities."

The university's administrators said Yudof's emphasis on transparency was unique.

"I think he's ahead of the curve on lots of issues," said University of Texas at Arlington President James Spaniolo. "He developed a system of accountability and measures for accountability even before they became a matter of common conversation around the country."

In 2003, Yudof helped to alter the tuition system at the University of Texas, giving the university's board of regents, rather than the legislature, the ability to increase tuition.

"He was certainly a proponent of having the legislature give up its control of tuition, but at the same time he's been careful about the extent to which tuition would be increased," said Steven Goode, a law professor at the University of Texas and a former colleague of Yudof.

At the university, increases are now first recommended by a panel of students, faculty and administrators, and are ultimately approved by the system's board of regents.

University of Texas student government presidents are also invited to participate in the administrators' discussions on possible student fee increases.

Many administrators said Yudof's past work will benefit his new leadership role at the University of California.

"He's probably the best academic administrator out there," Goode said. "He knows public higher education inside and out - he's bright, he's a skilled administrator (and) he works well with people."


Contact Tamara Bartlett and Angelica Dongallo at [email protected]

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